AAS Annual Meeting

Korea Session 61

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Session 61: Globalization and the Production and Consumption of Food in South Korea - Sponsored by the Northeast Asia Council and Committe on Korean Studies

Organizer: Seungsook Moon, Vassar College, USA

Chair: Michael J. Pettid, State University of New York, Binghamton, USA

Discussant: Michael J. Pettid, State University of New York, Binghamton, USA

Food and beverages are the sources of nourishment and quotidian pleasure. They are also a significant aspect of individual and collective identities, indicated by religious regulations of diet and regional variations in dietary custom. As a social fact, food and beverages signify rank and hierarchy, intimacy and solidarity, and exclusion and distance between social groups. In the current era of globalization, food and beverages are not only a major target of transnational agribusiness, fast food industry, and leisure and entertainment industry, but also a crucial site where localized responses to globalization are articulated. Approaching food as material culture that reveals complex social relations of power, this panel brings three scholars and two discussants together to explore the political economy and cultural politics of of transnational production, circulation, and consumption of food and beverages in South Korea.

Food Politics and Consumer Coops in South Korea
Chul-Kyoo Kim, Korea University, South Korea

This paper attempts to investigate Korean consumers’ response to a number of food safety issues including US beef import liberalization in 2008. The focus will be given to consumer coops such as Hansalim as their membership has increased sharply and activity has become dynamic when there were food accidents. The consumer coops have become active in questioning the very structure of modern food system and seeking alternatives such as local food. I will analyze the programs of coops, the views of members (mostly housewives) on food related issues, and changing views and behaviors of members on socio-political issues after they have joined the coops. By doing so, I would like to concretize the concepts of food citizen and food politics, which goes beyond the conventional politics found among males and in the realm of production.

Politics of 'Globalization of the Korean Cuisine' (hansikui sekyewha)
Seungsook Moon, Vassar College, USA

This paper focuses on the “Globalization of Korean Cuisine” project that the Korean government launched in the fall of 2008. It will examine competing and converging interests of social groups involved in this rather curious project and assess what this case study reveals about the complex and contingent nature of contemporary globalization particularly in terms of the interplay between the political economy of commodity production and consumption and the cultural politics of difference and recognition.

Shaken or Stirred?: Recreating Makkolli for the 21st century
Theodore Jun Yoo, Yonsei University, South Korea

In 2009, makkolli topped soju and wine as the most popular drink in South Korea. Long regarded as a poor man’s alcohol, this unrefined milky colored and slightly carbonated fermented rice wine, often sold in plastic bottles or aseptic box containers, is enjoying a renaissance and has even found its pitchman in President Lee Myung-bak. In line with the panel theme of globalization of Korean food and nostalgia, my paper looks at the history and recent popularity of this alcoholic beverage. It will look at “soft” forms of nationalism, in particular the commodification of this beverage through tourism, and how makkolli has been repackaged as part of Korea’s unique cultural tradition.

Convergence of Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism: Circulation of 'Well-being' food in South Korea
Jesook Song, University of Toronto, Canada